Jackie Walker had ‘legitimately held belief’ over playing down the Holocaust

Jackie Walker had ‘legitimately held belief’ over playing down the Holocaust

Former Momentum vice-chair claimed Jews were chief financiers of the slave trade and that the African Holocaust was worse than the Nazis'

Joe Millis is a journalist

Jackie Walker (right) with Tony Greenstein (left) in front of a Momentum banner outside the Labour Party's HQ
Jackie Walker (right) with Tony Greenstein (left) in front of a Momentum banner outside the Labour Party's HQ

Suspended Labour activist Jackie Walker was defended by a party official who said playing down the Holocaust could be a “legitimately held belief”. 

Walker faced complaints after writing on Facebook in February 2016, in which she said: “Millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews… and many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean.” 

Walker, who was initially suspended from the party, was reinstated after a few weeks. A former vice-chair of Momentum, she now faces another disciplinary hearing on 26 March. 

The Sunday Telegraph reported that Walker’s film, Witch Hunt, cites a number of emails, written by party officials, revealing that they were keen to minimise the complaints of antisemitic behaviour against her. 

Using a “subject access request”, Walker obtained an email that said “Jackie has been reinstated” because “it became clear that her private conversation was taken completely out of context and that the allegations made had been scurrilous. 

Another states: “Having looked at the screengrabs most were legitimate political opinion,” adding: “The African holocaust language could be seen as extremely offensive, but it might also count as clumsy but legitimately held belief. In my view we were a bit too quick to respond to this one.” 

In the film, Walker alleges that her reputation as an anti-racist activist lay in tatters, because of flimsy evidence. 

She said: “What this person is saying, who is obviously in the compliance unit, is ‘this was a pretty weak case’, but this ‘pretty weak case’ smashed my reputation.” 

Ms Walker added that Labour‘s disciplinary process encouraged a “stasi-like…informing about people.” 

Euan Philipps, of Labour Against Anti-Semitism (LAAS), told the Telegraph: “These emails show that Labour’s complaints department has never been on top of the issue of anti-Semitism. Members of the Jewish community were appalled by Jackie Walker’s comments at the time and continue to be appalled by them.” 

Meanwhile, Cathy Ashley of Dulwich and West Norwood constituency Labour party in South-East London, said her own complaints of antisemitism had been ignored. 

Ashley, a former Labour councillor who chaired the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, was jeered and then censured for confronting a member who spoke in support of Ken Livingstone. 

She said: “The complaints process clearly isn’t working if complaints have been disregarded and there has been no response for over a year. What options does that leave a complainant when serious concerns that they raise go ignored?” 

A spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.” 

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